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I have a friend who sells some sort of supplement called "Protandim", and I'm wondering if it actually works or is any good. I'm skeptical of it, but I'm not aware of any evidence either way.

The unique blend of phytonutrients in Protandim signal your body’s genes to produce special antioxidant enzymes, SOD (superoxide dismutase) CAT (catalase) that work together as the body’s first line of defense against free radicals.* These enzymes are “catalytic,” which means that SOD and CAT are not used up when they neutralize free radicals. A single daily caplet of Protandim creates a cascade of your body’s natural catalytic antioxidants that are able to destroy millions of free radicals per second, on a continuous basis–24/7.*

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    Sigh. Why is Elsivier publishing "clinical proof" without a real control? – Oddthinking Jun 6 '12 at 3:40
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    Ah... catalytic enzymes... as opposed to the non catalytic ones I would think? – nico Jun 9 '12 at 15:27
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The answer depends on two questions:

1) Does Protandim activate NRF2 in normal persons to increase the level of SOD and CAT in many cell types?

Answer: one in-vitro study has shown this for curcumin, a part of Protandim, and kidney cells[1]; there are no clinical studies.

2) Do higher levels of SOD and CAT, probably leading to lower "radicals" (to be exact, SOD neutralizes O2-, and KAT H2O2 which are not radicals but can lead to such), reduce age-related symptoms?

Answer: there is growing evidence that oxidative stress is actually needed by the body[2], one example being macrophages producing O2-, H2O2, and NO- to kill bacteria).

[1] Balogun E, Hoque M, Gong P, Killeen E, Green CJ, Foresti R, Alam J, Motterlini R (2003). "Curcumin activates the haem oxygenase-1 gene via regulation of Nrf2 and the antioxidant-responsive element". Biochem J 371 (10): 887–95. DOI:10.1042/BJ20021619. PMC 1223348. PMID 12570874.

[2] Wikipedia page on antioxidant supplements and the refs therein

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